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Robert Stephen Hawker (Роберт Хоукер)

The Token Stream of Tidna Combe

A SOURCE of gentle waters, mute and mild,
  A few calm reeds around the sedgy brink,
The loneliest bird that flees to waste or wild
  Might fold its feathers here in peace to drink.

I do remember me of such a scene,
  Far in the depths of memory’s glimmering hour,
When earth looked e’en on me with tranquil mien,
  And life gushed, like this fountain in her bower.

But lo! a little on, a gliding stream,
  Fed with fresh rills from fields before unknown,
Where the glad roses on its banks may dream
  That watery mirror spreads for them alone.

Ah, woe is me! that flood, those flowers, recall
  A gleaming glimpse of Time’s departed shore,
Where now no dews descend, no sunbeams fall,
  And leaf and blossom burst no more, no more!

See now! with heart more stern, and statelier force,
  Through Tidna’s vale the river leaps along;
The strength of many trees shall guard its course,
  Birds in the branches soothe it with their song.

O type of a far scene! the lovely land!
  Where youth wins many a friend, and I had one;
Still do thy bulwarks, dear old Oxford, stand?
  Yet, Isis, do thy thoughtful waters run?

But hush! a spell is o’er thy conscious wave;
  Pause and move onward with obedient tread;
At yonder wheel they bind thee for their slave;
  Hireling of man, they use thy toil for bread.

Still is thy stream an image of the days
  At duty’s loneliest labor meekly bound;
The foot of joy is hushed, the voice of praise:
  We twain have reached the stern and anxious ground.

And now what hills shall smile, what depths remain,
  Thou tamed and chastened wanderer, for thee?
A rocky path, a solitary plain,
  Must be thy broken channel to the sea.

Come then, sad river, let our footsteps blend
  Onward, by silent bank and nameless stone:
Our years began alike, so let them end,—
  We live with many men, we die alone.

Why dost thou slowly wind and sadly turn,
  As loath to leave e’en this most joyless shore?
Doth thy heart fail thee? do thy waters yearn
  For the far fields of memory once more?

Ah me! my soul, and thou art treacherous too,
  Linked to this fatal flesh, a fettered thrall
The sin, the sorrow, why wouldst thou renew?
  The past, the perished, vain and idle all!

Away! behold at last the torrent leap,
  Glad, glad to mingle with yon foamy brine;
Free and unmourned, the cataract cleaves the steep,—
  O river of the rocks, thy fate is mine!

Robert Stephen Hawker's other poems:
  1. The Ringers of Lancell’s Tower
  2. The Well of St. John
  3. The Cell
  4. The Scroll
  5. The Death-Race

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